#SXSW: “ALIEN ON STAGE”
Review by David Baldwin
Every Christmas, the Paranoid Dramatics Amateur Group made-up of Dorset Bus Drivers put on a pantomime of a classic story for charity. On one particular year however, they really think outside the box and instead decide to put on a serious adaptation of the Sci-Fi Horror masterpiece, Alien. They work tirelessly on the sets, costumes and props, and believe they have created something great. Sadly, the show ends up flopping. It does however, end up finding a few adoring fans who may inspire the group to try again in a theatre on London’s West End.
From the start, my major issue with ALIEN ON STAGE is how superficial it feels. The camera acts as the fly on the wall, watching everything play out in various stages of completion. While it is fun seeing the show come together (and even more fun to see it play out in front of a screaming crowd), what we are privy to offers no real sense of depth or deeper understanding to gleam from. We learn precious few details about the eclectic Cast of characters putting on the show, and even less about the fans who inspire their trip to London’s West End. I kept expecting some form of drama or infighting, or even just some real hitch that makes for some form of introspection to take place. None of that happens unfortunately, so we are left with a padded out documentary that makes us wait far too long for what we actually want to see.
That is not to say there is nothing to enjoy here. Much to the contrary, fans of Ridley Scott’s seminal work will have a blast and delight in seeing the project come together in ways you will never expect. The enthusiasm of the Cast bringing the show to life is positively infectious, and imbues the Film with a whimsical tone that never dissipates. This is a hardcore fan documentary that revels in showing the creativity and wonder this group of individuals brought together to make this stage adaptation. It is inspiring stuff to say the least, and it could have made for an even more compelling narrative had the film been further tweaked from its current state. While some of the fake bus in space shots are strange, the way the Film plays with Alien iconography in the transitions is quite lovely and creative to see. But the fact that the Filmmakers were able to secure footage from Scott’s actual film is worth a celebration all on its own.
ALIEN ON STAGE screens Thursday, March 18, 2021 starting at 1 PM.